Are Teachers Servant-Leaders?

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The other day I listened to a friend of mine share experiences of her grade 5 classroom. She lamented how difficult it is to teach today, and gave examples of how much students have changed. One of her friends replied, ‘we would never have said anything like that to one of our teachers!” As I thought about it, I realized she was right; I would have never done the things that some of my students do, but then again things have changed. The education system has change and continues to change. It only makes sense that the role of the teacher needs to change as well. Teachers are no longer seen as all-knowing, nor can teachers run their classrooms as dictatorships, as children at a very young age are taught by their parents and teachers to question and think critically, so they are less likely to accept the status quo and follow along like sheep. As a result, teachers need to begin to rethink the way they run their classes and more importantly rethink how they lead. Instead of putting themselves above their students, some would suggest that teachers need to assume the role of the servant-leader. While many may not see themselves as servants to their students, others would argue that the role of a teacher is inherently one of servitude. This dilemma begs the question, are teachers servant-leaders? In order to try and answer such a question it is necessary to first understand what it means to be a servant-leader. Robert K. Greenleaf (1977) suggests that “the servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the feeling that one wants to serve. Then the conscious choice brings one to lead…The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being met” (p. 22). This is ... ... middle of paper ... ...The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational strategies, Issues and Ideas, 78 (6), 257-259. Crippen, C. (2005). The democratic school: First to serve, then to lead. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, (47), 1-17. Herman, D. V. & Marlowe, M. (2005). Modeling meaning in life: The teacher as servant leader. Reclaiming Children and Youth: The Journal of Strength-based Interventions, 14 (3), 175-178. Jennings, K. & Stahl-Wert, J. (2003). The serving leader. San Francisco: Berret-Koehler. Spears, L. C. & Lawrence, M. (2002). Focus on leadership: Servant leadership for the twenty-first century. New York: John Wiley and Sons. Retrieved July 24, 2010, from NetLibrary: Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant leadership. In J. T. Wren The leader's companion: Insights on leadership through the ages (pp. 18-23). New York: The Free Press.

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